Allergy Testing

Allergy Testing Singapore

Allergy Testing in Singapore

Allergies can occur to anyone at any time, for sometimes unexplainable reasons. Although some allergies can be resolved over time, there is a possibility that they may reoccur. Most of the time, allergies are managed over the long term. If not managed properly, allergies can severely affect our quality of life and disrupt our daily routine.

What causes Allergy? 

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system responds to the allergens in the environment. In its response, the body produces an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (lgE) to defend the body. Some common allergy triggers in Singapore include dust mites, shellfish, galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and peanuts.

How do I know I have any Allergies? 

There are various types of allergies affecting different parts of the body.

With allergies that attack your respiratory tract, you may experience; 

  • An itchy nose
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Cough

Allergies that affect your gastrointestinal tract can cause;

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramps or diarrhoea

If you develop skin allergies, you may develop

  • Itchy, red swelling over your mouth, lips, and/or eyes
  • Rashes

Severe allergic reactions can lead to a condition called anaphylaxis where you develop;

  • Acute difficulty in breathing
  • Wheezing
  • A drop in blood pressure
  • Swelling in the throat, lip, mouth, eyes, rashes

This typically happens within minutes to hours after an allergic reaction, and can be potentially life-threatening if medical assistance is not administered immediately. People who are prone to severe allergic reactions are advised to carry an emergency adrenaline pen.

Are Allergies painful?

Some allergic individuals experience mild symptoms such as a stuffy nose and sneezing. Others may experience pain in the neck, back and joints. Joint pain, in particular, is widespread.

Who is at risk of Allergies in Singapore?

Some of us inherit allergies, others develop them over time. Allergies are, however, more common among people with the genetic tendency to develop allergies, with a family member who suffers from allergies too, and a personal history of allergic rhinitis, eczema, and/or asthma. 

Allergic rhinitis affects 13.1% of the population in Singapore. While it occurs in both adults and children, it is particularly prevalent in children aged 4 to 17. Of which, about 40% of children with allergic rhinitis will have associated asthma. Conversely, about 80 to 90% of children with asthma will have associated allergic rhinitis. The most common trigger is exposure to house dust mites, followed by exposure to cigarette smoke.

Common Allergens in Singapore 

Shellfish is the most common food allergen in Singapore. Shellfish allergy tends to follow into adulthood and is the most common cause of food anaphylaxis in adults in Singapore. Clinical management is often a problem because of the unpredictability of its reaction, which would vary with the species of shellfish and quantity eaten, body part affected, and possibly preparation method.

Besides shellfish, hypersensitivity to peanuts is an increasing trend here. It is a frequent cause of fatal anaphylaxis, particularly in adolescents, and is carried into adulthood, with less than 10% outgrowing this allergy.

Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) – a prebiotic found in most milk formulas in Asia, Europe and the US – is more prevalent in older children and adults with no prior allergies to dairy products. 

What are the types of Allergy Testing in Singapore?

There are two main allergy testing methods in Singapore: Skin Prick Test, and blood test. The purpose of testing is to identify the allergen(s) and the testing method will be selected based on the symptoms you present. 

Skin Prick Test

The Skin Prick Test is a simple yet accurate way of identifying an allergy – specifically, allergies to dust mites, mold, pet dander, pollen, and foods. Allergens are introduced into your skin through a fairly painless prick device. No needles are involved. Our doctor will then review the results after just 20mins.

The procedure is manageable to most, with minimal pain and no bleeding, though a few may experience slight itch and redness over the tested skin area.

The Skin Prick Test is, however, not suitable for everyone. Anyone with a history of anaphylaxis to a particular allergen or suffers severe inflammation of the skin (e.g. eczema or psoriasis) will not be eligible for the Skin Prick Test. If you are on any oral antihistamine and cannot stop prior to the skin prick test, you will not qualify for this test either.

Blood IgE Testing for Allergies

The IgE blood test we perform for specific lgE antibodies produced in response to specific allergens but the range of allergens it is able to test for is much wider than a Skin Prick Test. As with any other blood test, results to the IgE blood test would take between 1 to 2 weeks.

The IgE Blood Test is a suitable alternative for those who are not eligible for the Skin Prick Test.

Find out how allergies are treated in Singapore.

Allergy & Sinus ENT Specialist Centre
Head & Neck Surgery Singapore

Dr Soma Subramaniam
Consultant ENT Specialist and Surgeon
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